The Hastings City Council has two contested races in the primary election on May 15 and two that are not.
In Ward 1, which includes south Hastings, incumbent Ginny Skutnik is running for re-election uncontested.
Ward 2, which includes west Hastings, has just two candidates — Margaret Marsh and Theodore Schroeder — who are running for the seat being vacated by Sarah Hoops. They both proceed to the general election on Nov. 6.
The Ward 3 and 4 races appear on the primary ballot because each race has at least three candidates. The two candidates who receive the most votes proceed to the general election.
Hastings City Council is a non-partisan entity.
Here’s some information about the candidates in contested races this spring:
Ward 3, which includes central Hastings, sees Matthew Jones, Marvin “Butch” Hughes and Chuck Rosenberg vying for the seat being vacated by John Harrington.
Throughout his adult life Jones has been an active volunteer and now he hopes to give back to the city of Hastings.
Jones, 32, of 916 W. Ninth St. is a web developer who works from home.
Since moving to Hastings in 2009, Jones has served seven years on the Hastings Arts Council. He currently serves on the United Way of South Central Nebraska Board of Directors, advisory board for Central Community College-Hastings and Career Pathways Institute in Grand Island.
He also volunteers weekly at the Hastings Literacy Program, which offers free GED preparation courses to adults.
He likes to encourage other people to give actively as well.
Jones served on the city’s information technology advisory committee that helped identify needs that could be addressed in the Enterprise Resource Planning software that the City Council approved.
“I enjoy the challenge of seeing problems and figuring out how we can come up with the best solutions, and listening to people’s advice on how to do that too,” he said.
He also would like to see the community’s rate of teen suicide attempts decline.
“I’ve loved watching Hastings grow my last nine or so years here and I’m looking forward to continue seeing it grow and also making sure we have a focus on keeping it a place that’s home for people,” he said.
Marvin “Butch” Hughes
Hughes believes he is still the man for Hastings.
Hughes lists 1331 W. Fourth St. and the former Hastings Middle School at 714 W. Fifth St. as his Hastings addresses. He also lives in Scotia.
He’s running for the Third Ward vacancy after previously running with no success for mayor of Hastings, Adams County Board of Supervisors and District 33 representative for the Nebraska Legislature.
“Twenty years ago I didn’t think I’d ever be sitting here,” Hughes said at a recent candidate forum. “Some of you guys out there probably wish I wasn’t. My background in leadership is fairly well said. I’ve worked with diverse people with diverse backgrounds whether it’s construction or the Marine Corps, or here in Hastings with petitions, for God’s sakes, and I’ve been very effective at it, and I think I can be effective on the council to get the job done and get on with it so we’re not just stirring the same stew again and again.”
Hughes has worked in farming and construction and considers himself a property developer and health counselor now.
“I think I’m the only candidate running for the Third Ward that can make a difference,” he said.
He said whoever is elected has to be strong so as not to be run over by bureaucracy of the city government, which he described as like a freight train.
“It’s going to take the strength of candidate,” he said. “We’re going to have to figure out something on the property taxes.”
With his experience running a business and serving on the Hastings Planning Commission, Rosenberg believes he is the best candidate to represent central Hastings on the Hastings City Council.
“I like the direction of where we’re going. We have good folks who are already in office,” he said. “I would like to see us move in the positive manner we’ve been doing the last year.”
Rosenberg, 67, of 715 W. 35th St. is the owner and manager of City Iron & Metal. He describes himself as a pro-business, pro-growth candidate. He also is the current chairman of the Hastings Planning Commission.
Rosenberg wants to continue the work already underway to keep local graduates from leaving Hastings.
“A lot of it has to do with jobs and getting industry in the community,” he said. “That takes a real effort to get those things.”
Rosenberg said he can help the Hastings City Council with his business experience.
“I know they make a lot of heavy equipment purchases, I’ve done that here,” he said. “I have to meet a payroll. I’m pretty tightfisted when it comes to spending. I’m like every other person in the community. I don’t want to have to pay any more taxes than we already do.”
Ward 4, which includes east Hastings, sees Christopher Maunder, Eunice “LaDaun” Schoenhals, Charles Holmberg and Matthew Fong vying for the seat being vacated by Phil Odom.
Maunder, 25, of 1222 N. Colorado Ave. hopes to help improve road and energy infrastructure in Hastings.
Maunder works as an information technology specialist for Royal Engineered Composites in Minden.
He is the president of the Conserve Hastings Action Team, a division of Common Ground Nebraska.
He looks at government as a service, spending taxpayers’ money on things that benefit them and not on things that might only benefit a handful of people.
“When you pay taxes you’re paying for things like roads and infrastructure, water pipes, things like that that benefit you and you rely on,” he said. “When your tax money gets spent on other things you can’t quite trace, you don’t really know where your money’s going; it feels a lot more like theft than taxes. I believe taxes are a fundamentally good thing. I just think there’s a way we can handle it that benefits everybody a lot better.”
He doesn’t have complaints about anything specific in Hastings.
Maunder said the city has spent a lot of money keeping things the way they are, investing in coal-fired power plants.
He’d like the city to also invest in natural gas and renewable energy. Discussions about increasing natural gas and renewable energy have taken place on the utility board level.
“I think we’ve made really good strides in that direction already,” Maunder said. “I’d like to play a role in stepping on the gas pedal in terms of doing that.”
Eunice “LaDaun” Schoenhals
While Schoenhals hasn’t held public office in Hastings, she is familiar with issues facing the Hastings City Council.
Schoenhals, 60, of 800 E. Fourth St. has attended nearly every council meeting for the last several years.
“I go to the City Council meetings and I enjoy knowing what’s happening in the town,” she said. “I have lots of people that don’t go and ask me questions. So, I thought, ‘Well, I might as well go and be a voice for the people.’ ”
When her husband, Vic, was in the U.S. Army in Virginia, Schoenhals was an active volunteer, serving in a “neighborhood mayoral program,” which she said was similar to a city council on the Army base.
She also participated on her local parents and teachers association and in the officers’ wives club.
“I just like to know what’s going on around me and be informed,” she said.
She retired last year from her business, Grooming by LaDaun, which she’s operated since graduating from high school.
She also has a mechanical drafting degree from Central Community College-Hastings she earned after returning to Nebraska.
When they were leaving Virginia, Schoenhals and her husband looked at larger Nebraska cities but preferred the size of Hastings as well as the sense of community and people.
Holmberg, 67, of 717 N. Cedar Ave. hopes to use his background working for Hastings Utilities s a crew chief for the gas department and as a local landlord to benefit the community as he runs for Hastings City Council.
“Hastings is a good town,” he said. “It’s been good to me.”
Holmberg started in construction after graduating from Central Community College-Hastings about 50 years ago.
Eventually he began purchasing apartments in town.
“I’m hoping I can return some of that back to the city with my knowledge of housing,” he said.
He has expressed concern about the amount of housing and hotels being constructed in Hastings.
“We need to be careful not to build more than is needed,” he wrote in a League of Women Voters questionnaire. “At present, many people working in Grand Island live in Hastings due to a lack of housing there. But they may move when ample housing becomes available in Grand Island.
“Most of our motel owners are concerned about new motels being built, especially if we lose any of the softball tournaments.”
Holmberg said with Nebraska among states with the highest property taxes in the country, he also wants to address property tax rates as a councilman.
“I still want to protect our schools,” he said. “I don’t want them to get hurt any, but I think we need to be more careful about how we spend some of the city’s money.”
Fong and his wife, Kaleena, have received a lot from Hastings and Matt wants to continue to give back.
Fong, 35, of 200 Forest Blvd. is associate vice president for alumni relations at Hastings College, from which he graduated in 2005.
“Kaleena and I have talked about it (Matt running for City Council) and we certainly feel like Hastings is a great place,” Fong said. “I want to do my part to make sure Hastings continues to grow and prosper in the future.”
Fong doesn’t have any specific platform issues he wants to see addressed.
“I do think we need to make sure we take full advantage of all of the opportunities that are available for the city of Hastings to do what’s best for all of the people in the community,” he said.
He likes what is happening with the North Park Commons project, involving 93 acres of residential and commercial development on the north edge of Hastings that is led by the Hastings Economic Development Corp. Fong said it also is important to focus on quality of life parts of Hastings such as parks and downtown improvements.
“I do think housing continues to be an issue that needs to be taken a look at over the course of the coming years,” he said. “Also, we need to make sure there are jobs for young people who are continuing to come back into the community.”
Fong serves on the Hastings Tree Board.
He also is actively involved in Hastings Young Professionals and part of the Flatwater Music Festival planning committee.
Fong is a former diplomat for the Hastings Area Chamber of Commerce.
He served on the Hastings Public Library Board of Trustees from 2008-2014 helping with planning for the library’s renovation. He also served as an elder and deacon at First Presbyterian Church.
“Gosh, Hastings has been just such a supportive community for me as I’ve started my career,” he said. “Hastings means a lot and I’m grateful for the people who have given both me and Kaleena the opportunities in town to do and be a part of things. I think about the library project that I was a part of, also some of the things I’ve done with the chamber and HYP and all of the different things that we’ve had the opportunity to do and just I really feel like Hastings is a good place and let’s continue to make sure it remains that way.”